Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declaring a 21-day complete lockdown across the country, the state government today extended the existing lockdown till midnight of 31 March in the whole state given the ‘unnatural situation’.

Initially, the lockdown was from 23 to 27 March in Kolkata and some parts of the districts. “After carefully considering the present situation, we have decided to extend the ‘Complete Safety Restrictions’ from 5 p.m. today till 31 March instead of 27 March across the state. This decision has been taken due to the current unnatural situation. We have studied that in the last four days, one lakh cases have been detected. Thus to ensure that everybody is well, I request everyone to please endure the difficulties for a few more days as it is for the benefit of all,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a Press Conference today.

The essential services and goods carriers carrying food, medicine and essential commodities, banks and ATMs and petrol pumps, LPG gas, oil agencies will remain exempted from the restriction. “We have kept ration shops and markets open, so that daily life is not affected. But many people are going to the market together and buying things in a crowded manner. With folded hands, I request everyone to please keep distance while waiting in the queue in front of shops. Even those queuing in front of banks should follow the social distancing measures,” Banerjee said.

She also urged people to refrain from playing cricket during this period as it increases the chance of spreading the disease. She yet again requested people who have come from abroad or from other states to remain quarantined in their own homes for 14 days. State chief secretary Rajiva Sinha and finance secretary HK Dwivedi would monitor the situation daily.

Meanwhile, a day after the death of Bengal’s first novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the city on Monday, two more persons were tested COVID- 19 positive in the state today. With these two cases, the number of COVID-19-affected patients shot up to nine, including the deceased in Bengal. The two new patients also had recent travel history in the UK and Egypt, respectively.

One office colleague of the deceased, who was a railway employee posted at Fairley Place office at BBD Bag, was also admitted to the NRS Medical College Hospital today after he developed COVID-19- like symptoms ~ fever, cough and cold with respiratory trouble.

“His condition is stable, and we have sent his swab sample to the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) laboratory inside the Beliaghata ID Hospital complex for COVID-19 confirmatory test,” said Dr Sourav Chatterjee, superintendent of the NRS Medical College Hospital. The patient (first death case), a resident of Dum Dum in the northern part of the city, died on Monday at a premier private hospital along EM Bypass where he was undergoing treatment in the critical care unit (CCU) equipped with life-saving devices like ECMO since Saturday.

He had close contact with his family members at his Dum Dum residence and a colleague at the railway office before the former was admitted to the private hospital. The deceased’s family members have also been kept under observation at the government M R Bangur Hospital at Tollygunge. Fearing the spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases and community transmission of the viral disease, CM Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, visited five government medical colleges and hospitals today to take stock of the situation there.

The state government has also planned to accommodate all COVID-19 suspects and patients at the MCH at College Street instead of bringing them at several other hospitals in the city. “Besides emergency cases, no other patients will be allowed admission to our hospital. Patients undergoing treatment in different departments will also be shifted to other government hospitals,” said a senior administrative official of the MCH. COVID-19 patients will be brought to the MCH accommodating around 2,000 beds.